The agricultural sector in Uganda contributes to 30% of GDP and is the backbone of Uganda’s industrial activity, employment, household incomes and food security. However, lending in the agricultural sector constitutes only 7% of total private sector credit. This credit is characterized by high interest rates and high fees for accessing loans which has not helped small scale farmers due to the terms, conditions and the challenging bureaucratic tendency in the banking sector.
Fortunately, Keyla’s project proposal to FSD Jinja, in partnership with Kakira Outgrowers Rural Development Fund (KORD) and Buwenge Farmers Association (BFA), was to address the farmer’s financial challenges by organizing and empowering them with knowledge so as they can be able to provide sustainable solutions to their financial challenges. This was implemented throughout Keyla’s 8-week virtual internship. The farmer’s group formed a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) and elected the leadership body among the group members e.g. Chairperson, Secretary, Finance manager etc who were in charge of administrative duties of the group. With Keyla and KORD’s guidance, the group formed the constitution, organized group members for class sessions and handled the finances in a more accountable manner. This was followed registering the saving scheme so as to be recognized by the local government of Jinja. The farmers also underwent training in financial handling and leadership skills which was a mindset change to many.
With the implementation of the initiative, members were able to contribute towards the group saving scheme, and it’s from this contribution that they will be able to borrow funds with less bureaucratic tendencies. The group improved their leadership skills, learnt the procedure of acquiring a loan and how to use it, mastered record and book keeping, wrote a constitution, and learnt about conflict management due to avenues of solving challenges provided in a group i.e. constitution hence strengthening the micro-finance group. We are proud to see the growth of this farmers group with the help of our virtual intern Keyla and our longtime community partner KORD.